Tag Archives: fashion

Holiday Fashion, New York Style

By Hannah Watanabe-Rocco

So, this year I’m not going home for Christmas or New Year’s. I’m excited about spending the holidays in New York City for the first time, but I’ve never spent the holidays away from my family, and it’s kind of sad. It’s been making me think a lot about my holiday traditions, and how I can bring them into my life here. My family loves the holidays, even though we’re not religious at all. We’re less into organization and more into procrastination, so we get around to decorating the house at our own pace. My sister and I often take over tree-trimming duties, with our faithful dog Cassie sitting around looking really adorable, cheering us on, and sometimes wearing reindeer antlers. On Christmas day, my sister still wakes us all up at the crack of dawn to open presents even though she’s, like, 20 now (oh God, so weird!) and then we go to our family friend’s house to have Christmas breakfast. At night we go over to our grandparents’ and aunt’s house to eat really good food and open even MORE presents.

Rochas boots, Comme des Garcons Girl top, Comme des Garcons Girl dress

New Year’s is always a good time, too. The New Year is a big Japanese holiday, so we go over to my grandparents’ house to eat a lot of good Japanese food that’s all symbolic of stuff that I can’t remember. But it’s always really tasty! We also always go to Little Tokyo to participate in even more Japanese festivities. New Year’s Eve has always been the province of friends, though. My friends and I really like to party hard on New Year’s Eve. We do craaaaazy stuff like play Settlers, like, ALL NIGHT, or build blanket forts, or go watch the Korean Bell to be rung only to get some crappy mp3s of the bell ringing while watching people pretending to ring the bell instead…we’re pretty cool. It’s hard to think that I won’t be home for all of the usual holiday adventures with my family and my oldest friends.

Left: Madewell blouse, J. Crew hat, Alexander Wang shoes, J Brand jeans
Right: Madewell sweater, Madewell skirt, Chloe shoes, New Scotland hat

But since I’m in New York City this year, I really feel like I have to step up my game, fashion-wise. I mean, I know everyone’s heard this a million times, but everyone here is pretty intimidatingly fashionable. It took a lot of courage for me to buy a bulky, practical down coat this year for the sake of comfort, because I feel like such a dork around all of these beautiful people walking around in beautiful, unsubstantial-looking coats. Seriously, do people here not get cold??? But holiday fashion is always so much fun that I’m excited to have the chance to actually wear some of it. As you might imagine, playing board games doesn’t really lend itself to fun outfits. I really want to go for some sequin skirts and brocade pants this year, which I somehow haven’t really embraced before despite my love of all things gaudy. Also, a lot of really fashionable boots. I’m seriously the hugest boot person. I think they’re comfortable AND cute, which I can’t say the same of heels (not comfortable) or sneakers (not cute). I can find a way to incorporate boots into ANY outfit, fancy or not. Besides, once it starts snowing, you really don’t have any other choice!

Left: Jil Sander shoes, J. Crew jacket, J. Crew skirt, J. Crew cashmere sweater, Gilly Forge hat
Right: Opening Ceremony shoes, Anthropologie slacks, J. Crew sweater

Now I have to start a lot of new traditions for myself this Christmas with my boyfriend, friends and family on the East Coast, and it wouldn’t hurt to make “looking cute” one of those traditions! I’ve already gone to see the tree at Rockafeller Center get lit up, and I’ve started my gift-buying (like Leslie Knope, I consider myself an excellent/competitive gift buyer). Now I want to go to Central Park to go ice-skating, and bake some cookies, and watch The Muppet Christmas Carol on YouTube, and knit some really cute ornaments. Even though I won’t be with my family back home, I’m slowly finding a way to make home wherever I am.

All drawings by Hannah Watanabe-Rocco.


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Today I Am So Joyful

By Rocio Anica

Today I am so joyful
that it’s numbing. I went to the store, bought nothing,
but I walked around and touched and tried shoes
and flowy dresses. I tied a scarf around
my neck and pulled it too tight,
reminding me that I’ve yet still to die,

so I walked across the street to sit and get a Thai
iced tea. When I got there I watched a joyous
girl amble in, and I forgot about how tight
to feel I pull my scarves, admiring instead how nothing
of her seemed unmusical: the silk of her skirt, her curls, the inches around
her tiny fancy waist, and the needle heels of her patent shoes,

so when I got my iced tea, I didn’t want it anymore. I wanted Jimmy Choos
and some Manolos. I threw my tea in the trash, remembering my diet,
and returned to hunting around
for berry lipstick, sequined slacks, a box clutch. The salesgirl was overjoyed
when I flashed my AmEx. But I tired of glaring back at the little girl saying nothing
in the mirror, and I left. I went home. I lay around the house in skin-tight

lingerie watching television of lights and women dancing in tights, tidings
over vacant, truant eyes, which made me feel warm inside, so I put my shoes
back on, remembering that Christmas is coming and nothing
beats that. I made my way downtown where racks of woven, dyed
cloths—cotton, rayon, and blends, more blends—were waiting for the joy
of the holidays to give to them tribute and reverence, which we did and paid around.

Because we were hungry. And hungry still, I hung around
longer, matching premium denim with cashmere and wool. I tithed
on a pair of good names. There were camisoles in crimson and I rejoiced
when I found couture sheath dresses in my size to choose
from, with beadwork and electric colors to die
for. There is nothing

I won’t wear. Ruby-colored pants, lavender gloves, Lucite wedges. Not a thing
looks bad when I wear around
my neck and fingers precious metals and stones that some people, I heard, die
from mining, but, then, as I was buying a tight
well-tailored blouse and a pair of satin shoes
I caught a glimpse of a homeless woman outside watching me enjoy

my treats and new things, so I turned away, smiling tightly
then snuck around the back to avoid shooing
her away from my car where, dying to be home, I gas—my vacuum of comfort and joy.

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Gothic Lolita

By Hannah Watanabe-Rocco

Even though I’ve been involved in a lot of nerdy things (I was in two orchestras at a math and science high school; essentially we were the nerdiest of the nerds), I’ve never been an anime kid. Despite being half Japanese and, despite having tried reading some manga and watching some anime and trying to listen to J-rock, it just never really clicked with me. However, it most definitely clicked with my sister. When she hit middle school, she got super obsessed with these really androgynous J-rock bands, started dressing up like anime characters and we started going to anime conventions together. Even though I didn’t really like anime, I enjoyed being in an environment where people were united by being super into something, and felt like they could be themselves. It wasn’t necessarily what I would do, but I always like people who aren’t afraid of letting their weird sides show. It was around then that I discovered Gothic Lolita.

Gothic Lolita is largely characterized by big curly hair, super frilly dresses, superfluous amounts of bows, and being extremely dainty. First, my sister was really into it, and she showed me some pictures of these strange Japanese girls dressed like wannabe Marie Antoinettes. I was confused. Wasn’t it difficult going around dressed like that all the time? How did they go to the bathroom? Plus, they all looked like little girls. It seemed weird and kind of regressive that these women were infantilizing themselves by dressing this way. Then I watched this movie called Kamikaze Girls.

Kamikaze Girls is awesome, and you should go watch it immediately. It’s about this really antisocial Gothic Lolita girl who decides to open up a little and make friends with this crazy girl in a biker gang. When I watched that movie, I realized that Gothic Lolita wasn’t really about infantilisation, and it definitely wasn’t about trying to be attractive to men or something. It’s about creating your own world through what you wear. The girl in the movie just wanted to escape to Rococo-era France, and hey, who wouldn’t want to do that? For me, the most fun part of fashion is how you can kind of create your own story through your clothes. When I choose an outfit, I subconsciously think about a backstory, about a character I’m trying to create. It’s a fun way of trying to bring storytelling into everyday life.

After that, I bought a Gothic Lolita magazine at the next anime convention I attended, and I really haven’t looked back since. I am an unabashed fan of Gothic Lolita. Even though it might not necessarily be practical for me to wear, I can take some of the Gothic Lolita sensibility into my own life. I like the punk-rock sensibility it takes to wear whatever you want and not give a fuck. I like the little specific details that are so important in creating your own world, your own story. These are the things that bring a little something special to everyday life.

All drawings by Hannah Watanabe-Rocco.


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By Hannah Watanabe-Rocco

Hello everyone! My name is Hannah and I’m going to tell you a little bit about fashion, because I am a Fashion Expert. Seriously. Except not seriously. I’m actually just a 23-year-old who graduated with a film degree a year-and-a-half ago and now I’m working in apparel retail part time, so I’m going to count these as adequate credentials for me to force my thoughts about fashion upon you.

When I was younger, I didn’t really have a huge interest in what clothes I wore. Any interest I did have was of the fitting-in variety. I wanted to wear sweatshirts with Hawaiian flowers on them and Old Navy fleece pullovers like everyone else. My fashion mecca was Pacific Sunwear (Does anyone still shop there? Does that place even exist anymore?) I think I also had some hideous mauve lipstick that I got at Target that I would sometimes wear to feel like a grownup. So yeah, basically, I was not a ~fashionista~.

Then I got to high school. I went to a magnet high school for math and science, so everyone was pretty nerdy and I suddenly felt the freedom to reinvent myself. I didn’t know anyone, and everyone was pretty much as geeky as I was, so why not? Thus began my experiments in fashion. And not, like, cool experiments done by professional chemists. More like Frankenstein-esque experiments done by a mad scientist, the mad scientist being me. I started subscribing to YM magazine (sadly not around anymore, RIP) and one day when I was 15 I came across this awesome fashion spread about mod clothing. My life was never the same. This happened to coincide with the time when I started listening to cooler music, like The Beatles and pretty much anything British and from the ’60s, and the White Stripes, so I was primed to like mod fashion. I looked at these cool girls with BANGS riding around on VESPAS wearing cool WHITE BOOTS and LEATHER JACKETS and I instantly fell in love.

I feel like this is the point where I should explain exactly what mod is. Mod, short for modernist, was a subculture in London in the ’60s where everyone was basically a godless heathen. Well, maybe not a godless heathen, but young people started spending money on themselves instead of contributing money to their family, and therefore started spending an ungodly amount of money on clothes. It was also tied in with music and tons of other things going on in culture at the time. Women got more androgynous, hemlines shortened (Mary Quant, a hugely influential mod designer, invented the hot pant and the miniskirt. Thank you, Mary Quant!), and generally people dressed way awesome.

As a 15-year-old with no disposable income to speak of, I got some cheap blazers from Macy’s (actually, I had some left over from my Avril Lavigne phase when I was 14. Don’t judge, I know you had an Avril Lavigne phase, too) and started sewing my pants so that they were skinny instead of flared. Okay, so I’m going to sound like every other mildly artsy teenager who’s always like, I LIKED ____ BEFORE IT/THEY/HE/SHE GOT FAMOUS, but seriously, I wore skinny pants before everyone else! There was also, like, one other girl at school who I always felt very competitive with, fashion-wise, and she also started wearing skinny pants around this time. This was BEFORE you could buy skinny jeans at the Gap and we had to bootleggedly make them ourselves. I hand-sewed that shit, bitches. Don’t front.

So anyway, mod has continued to have a huge impact on my style ever since then, and I’m going to suggest some ways to create the look with some clothes that I really like and can’t afford!

This dress is Madewell. I figure you can find red tights/flats pretty much anywhere.

Sonia by Sonia Rykiel is so awesomely mod: the bright colors, the clean, boxy cuts. Color-blocking is a huge part of the whole mod aesthetic. The shoes are Chelsea boots from Marais USA.

The sweater and skirt are Rag & Bone, the white collared shirt is just a generic white collared shirt, and the shoes are TopShop. I feel like this one is slightly verging on being seventies, but there’s definitely still some mod-ness there: the color-blocking in the sweater, the menswear details in the mini-skirt.

The dress is from Red Velvet. So cute! The shoes are TopShop again. Man, I wish I could have a sweet turquoise Vespa. I always see them parked around the West Village, and I’m like, you mean I could feasibly use one of these things in New York City? Apparently so!

As an added bonus, here’s a song to serve as a little soundtrack to all of your wildest mod fantasies. Enjoy!

All drawings by Hannah Watanabe-Rocco.

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